Ekambareswarar Temple, Kanchipuram – Temple Architecture
Ekambareswarar Temple is one of the famous Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, located in Kanchipuram in the state of Tamilnadu. This large Ekambareswarar Temple is one of the foremost ancient in India having been alive since a minimum of 600 AD. Second century AD Tamil poetry speaks of Kama Kottam, and the Kumara Kottam (currently the Kamakshi and the Subramanya temple.
Initially temple was engineered by Pallavas. The Vedantist Kachiyappar served as a priest at the Ekambareswarar Temple. The present structure then was pulled down and remodeled by the later Chola Kings. Adi Shankaracharya at the 10th-century saint got Kanchipuram remodelled alongside growth of this temple alongside Kamakshi Amman temple and Varadaraja Perumal Temple with the help of native rulers.
The Vijayanagar kings during the 15th century additionally created lot of contributions to the Ekambareswarar Temple and later developed by Vallal Pachaiyappa Mudaliar used to go frequently from Chennai to Kanchipuram to worship in this temple, he spent most of the cash he amazed during British rule on the temple renovation, Pachaiyappa Mudaliar seated at horseback may be seen in the temple pillar.
At the later stage an identical temple with same name Ekambareswarar was created in Chennai by Pachaiyappa Mudaliar so as to avoid travel time to Kanchipuram. The archeological Survey of India report of 1905-06 indicates wide renovation activities were administrated in the temple by Nattukkottai Chettiar.
Pancha Bhoota Stalams refers to the 5 Shiva temples every representing the showing of the 5 prime parts of nature – land, water, air, sky, fire. Pancha indicates 5 Bhoota means that parts and Stala means place. Of these temples are set in South India with four of those temples at Tamil Nadu and one at Andra Pradesh. The 5 parts are believed to be enshrined in the 5 lingams and every of the lingams representing Shiva in the temple have 5 different names based on the elements they represent.
In the Ekambareswarar Temple Shiva is said to possess manifested himself in the type of Prithvi lingam. The other four manifestations are Appu lingam (representing water) at Jambukeswarar Temple, Thiruvanaikaval, Aahaya lingam (representing sky) at Thillai Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram, Agni lingam (representing fire) at Annamalaiyar Temple and Vayu lingam (representing air) at Srikalahasti Temple.
The temple covers an area of over 23 acres (93,000 m2). Reaching a height of 59 meters, the temple's Raja gopuram (the entrance tower to the temple) is one of the tallest in South India. One notable feature of the temple is the Aayiram Kaal Mandapam, or the "hallway with a thousand pillars", which was built by the Vijayanagar Kings. The temple's inner walls are decorated with an array of 1,008 Siva lingams.
The campus is 23 acres with 5 prakarams (or courtyards) and has a thousand-pillared hall. Kampai Tirtha, the temple tank is believed to have an underground holy river. The fourth courtyard contains a small Ganesha temple and a pond. The third courtyard contains lot of smaller shrines. The sanctum sanctorum contains the lingam along with the image of Shiva.
There is no separate shrine for Parvati within the complex as with other Shiva temples in Kanchipuram. A local belief is that Kamakshi Amman Temple is the consort for Ekambaranathar. There is a small shrine for Vishnu named Thiru Nilaaththingal Thundathan inside the temple complex. Vishnu is prayed as Vamana Murthy and the shrine is hailed by the Alvar saints as one of the 108 Divya Desams.
The sthala-Virutcham or temple tree is a 3,500-year-old mango tree whose branches are said to yield four different types of mangoes from its four branches. Panguni Uthiram festival celebrated during the month of March–April is the most popular of all the temple festivals in Kanchipuram.
The temple consists of ten pillars in its Prakaram (inner corridor) of this temple which is said to produce ten different musical sounds when it is hit with a stick. The special feature of Ekambareswarar temple is that the roof of this temple contains the twelve zodiac signs. Ekambaranathar temple has another highlight too.
To the north east of Ekambareswarar shrine within the inner prakara (roundabout) of the Ekambareswarar temple, there is a Vishnu shrine. Lord Vishnu is called as Nilathingal Thunda Perumal here. The deity is in the standing posture, and this shrine is one of the 108 famous Vishnu shrines (Divya Deshams).
The presiding deity here is Ekambareswarar or Shiva, worshipped as the Prithivi Lingam. A Somaskanda panel featuring Shiva, Parvati and Skanda adorns the rear of the main shrine, which has been held in worship for centuries together. There is another shrine of Shiva and Kamakshi under the Stala Vriksham or the Temple tree, which is a mango tree said to be 3500 years old.
There are other deities in this temple such as Vellakambar worshipped by Brahma, Kallakambar by Vishnu and Nallakambar by Rudra. There are also idols such as Vikata chakra Vinayakar, Arumugar, 1008 Lingas, 108 Lingas, 63 Nayanmars, Markandeyar, Bhikshatana, Nataraja, Pralayam Katha Ammai and Navagrahas. There is an idol of Lord Ganesha on peacock near the temple tower which is rare.
Iraivan: Arulmighu Ekambaranathar ("Thiru Vagambamudaiyur").
Iraivi: Anjanatchi Amman facing south direction in a separate Sannadhi. She is also called as "Karunai Nayaki".
Theertham: Siva Gangai, Kambai Theertham, Sarva theertham, Ulagani Theertham.
Thala Viruksham: Maa (Mango tree).
Pathigam: Sambandhar - 2, Appar - 4.
Thiru Nilaaththingal Thundathan Temple:
There is a small shrine for Vishnu named Thiru Nilaaththingal Thundathan inside the temple complex. Vishnu is prayed as Vamana Murthy and the shrine is hailed by the Alvar saints as one of the 108 Divya Desams.
The presiding deity of this Lord Vishnu‘s temple is ‘Lord Nilathingal Thundathan‘, also known as Lord Chandra Chooda Perumal, in a standing posture, facing towards the west. His consort Goddess Mahalakshmi is named as Goddess Ner Oruvar Illavalli Nachiyar and also called as Goddess Nilathingal Thunda Thaayar.
Sri Nilathingal Thundathan Perumal Temple is the only temple of Lord Vishnu where the poojas are done by the Saivite priests. The ‘Pushkarani’ (temple tank) of Sri Nilathingal Thundathan Perumal Temple is called as Chandra Pushkarani.
The temple is glorified in Nalayira Divya Prabandham, the great canon, and the songs were sung by the saint Thiru Mangai Azhwar. The Vimanam (tower above the sanctum sanctorum) of Sri Nilathingal Thundathan Perumal Temple is called as Purusha suktha Vimanam.
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